The Coffey Blog

The art of listening—for better results and relationships

Posted on: Monday, February 4, 2019

Julie Christian, Art Director/Senior Graphic Designer
Marjorie Reece, Lead Senior Editor

At Coffey, we're always excited to discuss what makes great healthcare marketing. But we also know that one key ingredient to success sometimes means not talking.

It's the beauty and benefit of listening.

Practicing good listening skills can enhance your everyday work relationships, and ultimately lead to more successful projects and results. As healthcare content creators, listening is especially valuable:

  • At the start of projects—so that everyone clearly understands the goals and plan.
  • When receiving feedback on things like content, design, user experience and strategy.
  • In moments when colleagues or stakeholders need clarity, understanding or empathy.

Chinese symbol for to listen

Source: U.S. State Department

4 ways to be a better listener at work and in life


1. Be fully in the moment.
Good listening is more than letting others talk. It's also about putting aside distractions like phones and laptops—and even our own thoughts. Sometimes what gets in the way of us actually hearing people is the anticipation of how we'll reply. We may even interrupt because we're so eager to share our ideas. Try to catch yourself doing this, and resist the urge.

It takes time and practice. And it may mean there are some quiet pauses in conversations. To make sure your silence doesn't come off as defensive or contrary, try letting people know you heard them, and you need a minute to process or to think out loud. This takes courage, but people will appreciate that they had your full attention.

2. Be truly curious. We've shared before why we think curiosity is a valuable job skill for healthcare marketers. When you come from a place of curiosity in your conversations, you're naturally going to be more engaged.

And leadership research shows that good listening is not one-sided. When you ask thoughtful follow-up questions, you show the other person you are actively supporting them, and it creates a place for a meaningful exchange and deeper understanding.

3. Be alert to signs of miscommunication. We're all busy—and sometimes that means we rush to assume that we understand or that we're being understood. So whichever side of the conversation you're on, slow down—and try "listening" with your eyes, not just your ears. Do people's facial expressions and body language show they're getting what you're saying?

4. Be empathetic. We've talked about how important empathy is in written healthcare content. It's also an incredible tool in conversations. Good listeners make others feel comfortable and safe—it's a positive, supportive collaboration.

So how do you bring more empathy into your interactions? Take a few tips from a big fan of empathy in content and conversations: Alan Alda. In this NPR podcast, he talks about how he practices actively imagining what another person is feeling or going through. We found it inspiring and enlightening, and think you might too.

We're here to listen to your needs

We know great work comes from true partnerships. We'd love to work with you to help reach your audience and goals—from content strategy to web design to social media. To start the conversation, give us a call at 888.805.9101 or email us.

Related reading

Your questions answered: How does social listening help healthcare marketing?
Health behaviors: Creating content that speaks to millennials
Interviewing doctors: How to get a great healthcare story